Peaches, have such a great flavor and are so very delicious when they are in season. But what if you have a hankering for a juicy, flavorful peach out of season? You may have to be content with a pithy, subpar peach in the off season. But if you know how to can peaches, you can preserve your own peaches at the height of flavor to enjoy during those long winter months.
I’ve been canning peaches for years, the home canned ones are so much better than the store bought canned peaches. When you home can peaches you can pick the variety of peaches to can and the liquid to can them in. But first, you need to know where to get your peaches.
Where to Find Peaches to Can
If you have a peach tree in your yard, then you are set. If you are like me and don’t have a peach tree you’ll need a source of peaches. Our family used to go and pick peaches at a local farm, but unfortunately, they no longer have u-pick peaches.
There are a few places we can pick peaches but they are quite a drive from us so we don’t usually u-pick peaches anymore. If you want to find where to u-pick peaches in your area try this u-pick site and click on your state to find u-pick farms near you.
Because of the drive and my time is more limited than it used to be, I purchase peaches at a local farm stand. They have fresh local grown produce at a little higher price than u-pick but I can drive up, grab a box or two or peaches and then head home with them. Saving me time and gas over going out to u-pick peaches.
You Will Need
- 14 peaches – look for ‘freestone’ peaches as it’s easier to remove the pit compared to clingstone peaches
- 1 large lemon
- 2 TBSP of honey (raw and local is best)
- 2 standard (32 oz) sized mason jars with lids
- a pot that is taller then the mason jars (e.g. you can put the mason jars in it and the pot lid will still fit properly)
Step 1: Sterilize Jars and Lids
I washed the jars with hot soapy water, rinsed them, then filled them with boiling water and let them sit for a few minutes before emptying them and setting them aside to dry. I also boiled the lids in a small pot of water for 5 minutes. My mom used to sterilize her jars in the dishwasher (most have a setting for ‘sterilizing’) … however, she used to do dozens of jars of peaches, tomatoes, pears … you name it .. so it was a full load!
Step 3: Prepare the Canning Liquid
In a pot, add 1 litre/4 cups of water and 2 TBSP of honey. Bring it to a gentle boil and then keep it on the lowest simmer possible until you need it (after a few more steps!) Adding honey helps to stabilize flavour, colour, and texture of the fruit. Note that most standard canning ‘recipes’ use A LOT of sugar. I didn’t want to do that!
Step 5: Slicing
Cut the peaches in half, and twist the halves to separate. The peach pit will likely still be in one half, so gently pry it out with a small knife, or cut the peach half in quarters and use your fingers to remove the pit. Put the peach slices in a bowl, squeeze fresh lemon juice on them, and toss them around in the juice. This will prevent the peach slices from going brown. I do this lemon juice step with each peach that I slice and add to the bowl.
Step 7: Water Bath
For this step, you’ll need a pot that is tall enough so that the pot lid will still fit on the pot when the jars of peaches are in it. Put the jars of peaches in the pot and fill it with water until the jars are covered with at least 1 inch of water. I boiled the water in the kettle first, then added it. Saves a bit of time. Bring the water to a boil and let it boil for 20 minutes (adjust the heat if necessary so that the water stays boiling but isn’t splattering everywhere or knocking the jars all over the place!). After 2o minutes of boiling, turn off the heat, remove the pot from the burner, then VERY CAREFULLY remove the jars from the pot (use jar lifting tongs if you have them) and set them somewhere to cool where they won’t be bumping against each other.
Canning peaches slightly alters their texture and taste, but it’s a great option for long-term storage. And if you’re freezer goes on the blink, you can still have delicious canned peaches. To can peaches, follow the directions below:
- Fill your water bath canner with water and start heating it. Wash quart or pint jars in very hot soapy water and keep them warm. Heat the lids and rims in simmering water.
- Prepare one pot of boiling water and one bowl of cold water.
- Drop the peaches briefly in boiling water for 30 seconds, then let sit in the ice water for several minutes. This will loosen the skins.
- Add ascorbic acid to the bowl of cold water, as detailed above. Peel, pit and slice the fruit and put the slices in the water. Allow it to sit no more than 20 minutes and rinse with clean water and drain.
- Heat your sugar syrup. Although peaches can be canned without any added sugar, sugar helps retain the peaches’ texture and taste. To make light syrup, heat 2 ¼ cups sugar with 5 ¼ cups water, which yields 6 ½ cups syrup. You can substitute pure apple or pear juice for the sugar syrup if you prefer.
- Place the peaches, cavity side down in the jars, leaving ½ inch headspace at the top. Fill the jars with syrup, again, leaving space at the top.
- Run a plastic spatula around the inside of the jar to remove any air bubbles. Wipe the rims of the jars clean with a damp cloth to remove any residue.
- Place the lids and rings over the jars and put the jars in the water bath canner. Heat the water in the canner to a rolling boil and boil pints 25 minutes, quarts 30 minutes. If you live more than 1,000 feet above sea level, increase cooking time by 5 minutes for every 3,000 feet.
For Further Peach Freezing and Peach Canning Reading:
Selecting, Preparing and Canning Peaches – National Center for Home Food Preservation
Preserving Peaches – Clemson Cooperative Extension